Last week, while in Iowa, Newt Gingrich endorsed broad government mandates on automakers to promote greater use of ethanol. In the process, he lambasted “big city” critics and the WSJ editorial page and dismissed concerns that ethanol mandates increase the cost of food and fuel. This morning the WSJ fires back, chiding the former professor for his cornpone pandering and “support for Mr. Obama’s brand of green-energy welfare.” Gingrich may think cuddling up to the corn lobby will enhance his presidential prospects, but his extreme endorsement of ethanol mandates won’t reassure those who already doubt his fealty to free enterprise and limited government.
Veterans of the environmental reform battles waged while Gingrich was speaker will recall his behind-the-scenes efforts to kill Endangered Species Act reforms that would have protected private property rights and, incidentally, eliminated the biggest obstacles to species conservation on private land. Given the choice, Gingrich stood with the environmental establishment against private property owners. Now he’s picking the corn lobby over American consumers (and supporting policies that undermine habitat protection and threaten groundwater to boot).